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August 23, 2012


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Good article. Enjoyed it. From someone who has experienced something similar to Bart (perhaps), seems to me that the difficulty lies in his interpretation, his map, of what happened, and you look at his map through your map and we get this article.

You make some valid points though.

"To me, this is true non-duality -- not perceiving ourselves as different from all the other forms of materiality."

It's the first time I've seen it described this way. It made me smile. But hey, could be. For me, I have no way of knowing that's not the case. The seeing does seem utterly other to me, and a mystery that I intend to learn more about with moment, but don't ever expect to get anyway near fathoming.

Thanks again,

Just to add, "enlightenment" is a strong word to use - I mean, how would you know? My sense would be that the only way you could know, is that someone who did know perhaps could recognise it when it's seen.

This does seem to be the ways it's been done for years in different religious traditions. For someone to state they are "enlightened" does smack of a spiritual arrogance (to me).

This made me cringe somewhat. The cliche count is off the scale - he's got it all covered.

I would make a distinction between insight and enlightenment. In this concept, insight/understanding is (as you have pointed out) the true nonduality, the insight into no-self - the recognition that a universe of innumerable first causes is incoherent. This has parallels with the neutral monism of Spinoza, Bertrand Russell and Einstein amongst others. As Derek Parfit says, this insight is not so much 'I see the light' but 'Ahh, I see…'

Enlightenment on the other hand appears to be insight with a topping of emotion and magic. It seems that this magical state comes about when the seeker is able to convince themselves that they are pure subjectivity (awareness/God consciousness) - and that this state is eternal, infinite and indestructible.

I suspect that adopting this notion requires a certain kind of mindset. A mindset that is prone to accept supernatural explanations for things no matter what evidence is provided - in essence, the religious mindset.

Blogger Brian - why would you be reading Non-Duality magazine in the first place? Ramesh Balsekar once quipped: if someone offered you the choice between enlightenment and a million dollars, you would be wise to choose the million dollars. At least you could do something with a million dollars.

You are every bit as enlightened as Bart Marshall. And he would tell you so if given the chance.

Enlightenment is certainty...including the certainty that there's no such thing as enlightenment.

"For me, and as a result of my own experience over time, I have come to view it as more of a process, a never ending process, a process of simply awakening to one's own awareness from moment to moment. Thus it is always something, an awareness, which is fresh in every moment. I don't see it as something, some state that is reached or attained for once and for all, or permanently. That idea of permanence or enlightenment as being something attained or completed, is an illusion. Life is not an attainment. Life is never static. Even though awareness seems to be continuous, it is always ever-fresh. So any so-called "enlightenment" must and can only be an ongoing process, not something that is finally reached or attained like a college degree or a trophy."

----this awareness could be an insight, or various other meanings. Enlightenment is just another word, no big deal.

It appears to me that, for some, "being enlightened" is quite like "knowing Jesus" is for others.

Robert Paul Howard

Enlightenment is understanding now what you did not understand then; that the past can be understood presently, but the present, not at all until past.

Interestingly enough his teacher Richard Rose was an initiate of Charan Singh back in the 50's

What would constitute an absolute proof of a self, an ego, an abiding individuality?

An 'objective" (more than one person witnesses this) appearance of a deceased person in a body perceivable by our ordinary senses?

Hey Brian. I liked this article, in fact I've been looking for something like it to say what was on my mind as well. I am an acquaintance of Bart's from some time back. I'm not exactly a member of TAT...but I do subscribe to their website to get updates and such. With that said, I have spent hours in meetings with Bart trying to get to the heart of all this, and of course I, like you am left befuddled as to how all this paradoxical information makes sense. And Bart spent some 37 years feeling that way while studying teachers like Nisargadatta, Maharshi, Rose and others.

In my thinking, if self-inquiry is to have ANY validity or power, it is with this kind of criticism. No spiritual teacher should be beyond reproach or elevated to some kind of sacred cow level. What you have written is simply one more faucet of what self-inquiry requires. Bart himself would know (being a student of Richard Rose) that doubt is sacred. It's fine to listen to teachers, and people who have claimed some experience if that gives you hope, but you can't settle there. If anyone thinks they can benefit from Bart, they should do so by asking hard questions. Bart is open to talk to people, and I have asked him many questions that address a lot of what you're talking about. And he's been honest. He's said directly "I used to know a lot of things, but not anymore."

Long and short, I did like your article as it does what any inquiry should do by asking hard questions and bringing to light that Bart is just a human being. He says and believes he had an extraordinary grace happen, an awakening. Has he? Who the he11 knows? Any of us can convince ourselves of anything if we don't have good enough intuition to distinguish between what is authentic and what is just some form of self-deception or auto-hypnosis from years of banging your head against a wall. That intuition is the only thing anyone can trust. If someone says "I've had an experience" it's fine to take them at their word and still say "I don't believe any of it until I see it."

To sum it up, I am a little biased. I like Bart. He's a great guy, and there are others I know who make the same claims to awakening Bart makes...the big difference being they don't have as good of a story as Bart does, they don't have a very charismatic delivery or ability to convey what they've realized, and for the most part they don't even care to talk about it because the are aware of the difficulty,the impossibility of putting into words what has to be experienced directly. In other words, and as Rose would some it up'what I know isn't going to do you too much good.'

Good message Sword,

You mentioned,

"Any of us can convince ourselves of anything if we don't have good enough intuition to distinguish between what is authentic and what is just some form of self-deception or auto-hypnosis from years of banging your head against a wall. That intuition is the only thing anyone can trust."

----What would be "good enough" intuition? What is the mechanism of Intuition? What is trustworthy intuition? Is there a dishonest form of intuition? Intuition is a fascinating topic, let the discussion begin.

Swordfish, thanks for the interesting comment (and creative pen name).

Yes, saying "I've experienced X" doesn't mean much. So what? All of us experience all kinds of stuff that nobody else does. In fact, everything we experience is unique to us. Because we're ourselves, and other people are themselves.

The way I see it, experience makes a difference if the difference is evident. For example, my dance instructor says "I had a great experience at the workshop for instructors." Then she shows me something she learned.

This tells me that the experience made a difference to her. But if someone has an "enlightenment" experience, and they act no different from other people, so what? Like I said, everybody has experiences that change them in some way.

If I had a dollar for every great insight into the nature of the cosmos that I've had over the years, I'd, well, have a bunch of dollars. Or, not. Because by now I would have spent them.

Read your article. I felt a bit disappointed.

Ludwig Wittgenstein rightly said, the most ultimate phislosophical questions are going to be regarding the analysis and interpretation of language.

What the ancient Indians meant by mind, thought, duality, non-duality, Self, Ego, Being, no body can interpret.

And that is the point. The moment you interpret, you lose the meaning. Truth is nothing but this very realization, it is not some esoteric magical knowledge data file that gets downloaded into your head.

Some things are worth being critical about, others are not.

It is like discussing about whether a Dog is atheist or theist. It is a valid question, but absurd at the same time!

Enlightenment is totally different for two people, never correlative. The most you can do is draw parallels from those who seem to have more mental integrity than you. It can not be discussed upon as an objective thing, it is a pure subjective experience..

Rather, it is not even an experience.

It is just the realization that the Human body is just a part of this universal machinery. A point where there is no 'human' different than the universe he is watching. It is a point beyond human logic of understanding, causal conformance, moral ethics, scientific rigour, everything. A point where you cease to see your limited body as individual, and begin to observe this whole worldly phenomenon in its entirety.

-and no one can 'imagine' this for the other person. It is just your experience, there is just no way to judge what the other has gone through.

The Buddha said, be your own light. If I come in your path, destroy me, and continue to walk...These people understood the limits of the science of logic. Logic is best for our brains which survives on the dependability of cause-effect, but the universe doesn't care. It is not struggling for survival, it has no goals, it just is there...it doesn't need logic to work, it is not its necessity, it is our necessity.

There is nothing called enlightenment. There is just knowledge of your true place in the world.

Think about it...the universe forms 13billion years ago, stars form, explode, make heavy elements, these form molecules, create life....and somehow, suddenly, you have a life form which questions itself!

Doesn't all this sound a bit absurd? How can i not be here 50 years ago, be here now, and not be again 50 years later? Where did i come from? Where did i go? Where is the logic in this situation??

It only means one thing; either I am some mysterious soul which goes on reincarnating, or this entity called 'I' is fictitious! Just an evolutionary tool to help some complex chemical reaction called 'life' sustain as long as possible, just an evolution of a programming due to chain reactions aimed at maximum survival!

The realization of this very fact; that I am no one different 'entity' than the universe, that I am a very part of this universe, no 'body' to seek, grow, suffer,enjoy, be born, die 'FROM' it; this realization is Enlightenment...that my Ego, my sense of individuality, is an evolutionary tool, a hallucination that helps me survive, just to keep this chain-reaction going....

Spiritualrapist, you speak of those with more "moral integrity" than other people. Including me, I suppose. How does someone recognize this moral integrity? Shouldn't this be based on their words and actions, not on some unrecognizable abstraction like "enlightenment"?

I don't know who you are. I came across Bart Marshall first at Rick's interview on batgap.com.
It's equally valid to discount everything. From religion, to spiritialism, to enlightenment etc. Except of course science, like neurology. Where one assumes that every finding recorded in a peer reviewed journal, is not bullshit. Every Nobel Prize is good.
To me every idea of man contains some amount of bullshit. Reading history of scientists, sometimes makes me want to throw up. Not every scientist is honest. Some of them are utterly inhuman (or human).

But I am myself waiting for that trap door to do it's work, in the sense, that I haven't found it yet. Till then any idea can be discarded. Including yours.

So, Brian, I agree that enlightenment isn't an all or nothing affair but it may seem that way to some people,
when I had my experience a few years ago I felt like there was an accompanying entity that has some version of control over my duality,
it wasn't a slam dunk but it was a very different feeling, it probably is very different for everyone that has that sort of experience,
I did seem to have more control over my material self and experienced some epiphanies that gave me more of a sense of "knowing",
it left me wanting more and caused me to explore my psyche in greater depth, also my lifestyle changed to the point of not wanting certain things that I previously would not even consider giving up,
as for the other 10 items that you mentioned, the fear of death was never a problem for me even before, but the duality was still there although tamed somewhat,
in essence, it only made me realize that my soul was there and it was up to me to truly take control of my existence for the better or for the worse.

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